SARAH Verrier's year started with surgery for an infected spider bite on her bottom but has ended with a Fremantle jumper.
The versatile midfielder/defender was taken by the Dockers with the second Western Australia selection (pick No.14 overall) in the NAB AFLW Draft after a horror start to her year.
YOUR CLUB'S DRAFT All you need to know about the 57 new faces
Verrier was sidelined for at least a month with the painful (if unconventional) affliction, having suffered the bite in late January while in Darwin for the NAB AFLW Academy camp.
"I have no idea what type of spider it was, but it's a bit hot in Darwin, and getting sweat involved didn't help," Verrier said.
"I went to the doctors and they told me it was a boil, so I got antibiotics for that, but it started getting worse over the next two weeks.
"Went back to the doctors again – and during that time it was painful so I couldn't do much – then they told me it was a spider bite and it was off to hospital and had surgery. It was pretty hectic, just from a little spider.
"There were no stitches involved, so I had to have a nurse come around every so often to pack the wound. It wasn't a good experience and set me back quite a bit for pre-season, and then COVID hit."
The 18-year-old managed to play seven WAFLW games for Peel Thunder – including the team's premiership win – but it wasn't quite how she'd imagined her draft year, having been involved in the talent pathways for quite some time.
Verrier made her first WA under-18 side at 15 (turning 16), when now-Fremantle coach Trent Cooper was in charge.
INS, OUTS, TRADES, DRAFTEES, ROOKIES Every club's complete list for 2021
"He knows his footy and the way he connects with all the girls, he's always onto what you need to improve on and what you need to do to keep getting better," she said.
"He just connects with everyone and he's got a good personality as well. It's not just that footy side of it, it's getting to know him which is really good."
When pre-season officially gets underway in November, Verrier also has a close sounding board at hand, with older brother Steven having been on Richmond's rookie list in 2012 and 2013.
"He loved that experience and being able to get advice from him has been really good. He's said you have to keep focused and work hard for [the opportunity] to pay off," Verrier said.
Having been able to play footy continuously since her Auskick and junior footy days with the Kwinana Knights, Verrier's just looking forward to taking the next step to the top level.
"I love the midfield the most, it's not really structured, the aim just being to get the ball and kick it down forward," she said.
"I enjoy that pressure side as well, tackling and getting your head over the ball. Once you see it, you just want to get it.
"Being drafted has topped off the year, with everything that's happened. Now I just need to work hard to be able to wear that purple jumper next year."